John Hurrell – 3 July, 2011
The content of Roger's show is nicely structured, being divided in emphasis between storytelling (Piccinini, Lowe, Henderson/Roberton) and elemental imagery (Lowe, Orjis, Chong, Piccinini).
James K. Lowe; Derek Henderson/ Tom Roberton; Patricia Piccinini; Liyen Chong; Richard Orjis
Curated by Melanie Roger
15 June - 9 July 2011
This is an intriguing show of photography put on to co-ordinate with the Auckland Festival of Photography 2011. (Which to me is such a pedestrian concept - do we need Festivals of Painting, Festivals of Sculpture too? Why the marketing of this particular medium? Is Art itself not enough?)
In her curation Melanie Roger makes a dreary idea interesting by stretching the notion of photography a bit. She includes sculpture that incorporates it, not the other way round. Liyen Chong’s circle of different sized flat circular dishes has black and white photographic decals imprinted in their inner surfaces, showing herself posed doubled over with long black hair flailing and a few coin-like circular motifs on top - a cross between Robert Longo and Gustav Klimt. It’s an impressive ring of starkly graphic circular forms dominating the floor.
Derek Henderson and Tom Roberton present a set of five photographs all of which feature a single large soap bubble filled with coloured smoke, centrally positioned. Not done digitally but ‘live’ (like John Baldersari’s three orange balls thrown in the air) these are fascinating images. Not only the composition but the mechanics of making such opaquely coloured bubbles engages the mind. Most of these shots are indoors, and the hovering coloured balls in such domestic settings seem surreal and creepy, to do with surveillance, like something from Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner, or The X-Files.
This subtly sinister mood is more pronounced in the coloured photographs by Patricia Piccinini where there are discreet references to bodily deformities like gills (on a human neck and car moulding) in some images. The scenes are elegant and beguiling with the disturbing ‘visiting alien’ detail not being obvious - except to those looking for it.
Richard Orjis often uses burning candles in his photographs and sculptural props. He seems to like their symbolic link to time, the intense light of the flame and the milky-grey translucency of the dripping wax. In one photograph he makes an icinged birthday cake version of the Pink and White Terraces where flowing and trowelled kneaded wax rolls in rippling waves down a hillside.
Of James K. Lowe’s photographs, one features real churning waves scattering in disintegrating showers of dispersed droplets. Another is of embracing teenage lovers outside a house, about to part. Beautifully lit and slightly ominous, the images seem a mix of Bill Henson and Gregory Crewdsen, set up to focus on a key twist in a narrative.
The content of Roger’s show is nicely structured, being divided in emphasis between storytelling (Piccinini, Lowe, Henderson/Roberton) and elemental imagery (Lowe, Orjis, Chong, Piccinini). Within this excellent ensemble, all the artists make balanced contributions to its success.